Deborah Hicks-Rogoff

Partnership for Appalachian Girls’ Education (PAGE) (NC)

When Deborah Hicks-Rogoff reflects on the girls who have come through the Partnership for Appalachian Girls’ Education (PAGE) program since its inception in 2010, she can’t help but see herself. Hicks-Rogoff grew up in Appalachia appreciating the resilience of its people, the strength of its communities, and the vital importance of education in this rural part of the Southeast. As she pursued each new educational opportunity, culminating in a doctorate in education and human development from Harvard University, Hicks-Rogoff knew she wanted to bring her experiences to bear to help the next generation of girls from Appalachia. 

PAGE is doing just that. Working with approximately 75 girls from the sixth grade through high school graduation, PAGE and its community and school partners provide year-round learning and mentoring opportunities, with an emphasis on critical thinking, the STEM fields, interdisciplinary and place-based learning, digital literacy, and building confidence and leadership skills.

“The joy of PAGE is seeing the incredible changes in the girls we serve, watching them gain a strong voice and sense of identity, and a vision of what is possible for them,” says Hicks-Rogoff. One of the challenges facing young people in Appalachia is what the future might hold for them, especially given the disappearance of economies such as logging, tobacco farming, and coal mining. PAGE is positioning girls and young women to embrace the future as something that they can help create in this vulnerable region.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about Appalachia, and for people living there it can sometimes feel as though they are overlooked,” she says. “But like much of the world, Appalachia is changing. In order to create new ladders of opportunity, Appalachia needs to connect to global communities and have passionate, educated young people reimagining what the region could be. PAGE participants’ vision may be different from what their parents or grandparents had envisioned when they were young, and that’s part of what makes it exciting. These girls are developing their voices as leaders who can have a say in their own futures, as well as the future of Appalachia.”